Ogunlana… In Pursuit Of True Development For Fatherland
The visit to the Lawyers 4 Change’s secretariat on Ikorodu Road, Lagos was born out of curiosity. The building itself contains several Law chambers. Mr. Adesina Ogunlana is the National Coordinator of Lawyers 4 Change.
At first meeting, it was obvious that Adesina loves his profession. One must also point out that the coordinator exhibited that confidence which is common to legal practitioners at the time of this chat. He confirms that he is a litigation lawyer, a professional who spends his time in the courtroom and not one “who sits in the office.”
He enjoys his work, he says and his demeanor as he barked at this Reporter to “ask your question” conjures courtroom dramatics; adjustment of the wig and gown and tugging at the bib to allow for enough amplification of the vocal cord; the glancing around to make sure that he has the attention of everyone.
And with that same pride of work and that behavior peculiar to men of the Bar that he explained that Lawyers 4 Change is a group or an association of Lawyers who are interested in the political or development in Nigeria.
The association has two main attributes, he says, adding with emphasis that membership “is exclusive and profession-specific. To that effect, it is made up of all Lawyers only-no engineers or other professionals, only legal practitioners” The other attribute, he points out is that the member must be a Nigerian citizen.
Although the thought to convene the group was in December 2014, he says it was officially inaugurated in January 2015. It is political, he adds, “but it is not a political party or affiliate of any political party.”
On change, he observes; “You have to agree with us that our country, Nigeria has been badly managed and poorly administered from and in all spheres of government; be it at the local government level.
The result is that there is wide spread poverty and wide spread unwarranted suffering all over the country “At this moment, majority of the citizens are not educated; the employable category do not have jobs. The economy has been in shambles for a long time.
The infrastructures and public utilities are grossly bad and inefficient and bad roads; fuel scarcity, poor schooling and gas wastage are result. Everybody will agree that there is need for change.
How we pursue that self-imposed is one thing, participation in the political processes and development of the country is not as a collective responsibility, it is not an individual duty. “Lawyers 4 Change do not contest political offices but we take part by mobilizing electoral support for those elements who we think should occupy offices all over the country irrespective of their of their parties “Particularly in 2015, we used our cars to go round the public.
We have what we call the move-along rallies where we addressed the market women. We were in Western Region. We addressed the people at Ojo Alaba. We were at Ilorin, Abuja, and Akure. We were at Ekiti State where we attacked.
The Commissioner of Police in that state denied the permission to canvass. “But the three people we have identified as credible are the President, Buhari, Vice-President, Mr. Yemi Osibajo and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
We however reminded Ogunlana that many people who have served in the government have a Law degree; he disagrees, however. On the suggestion that some people may view that average legal practitioners as dishonest people who may twist the Law to personal advantage; that the layman refers to them as liars, we remind him.
He explains; “The legal profession is made up of certain people who are operators and experts in the use of main regulators of the human community.
Law is all about ordering in the society for the purposes of peace, regulation and cohesion. And the importance of Law and the Legal Profession by this reality is that there is no single interactive action of mankind that does not involve the employment of Law.
In modern democracies, whether constitutional or parliamentary, one third of governance is exclusively reserved for experts in the use of Law and that is the Judiciary.
To that extent, that profession cannot be about lies and corruption. He explains further that two lawyers may see one case in tow different ways; but that is why the judge is there to ensure that justice is delivered.
On the possibility that this country may be training too many legal practitioners, he observes that if the number is under ten percent of the population, that we may not have enough of them. “If we speak of low quality of education, the problem should come from the formative years and it cuts across all professions.
On why he loves his profession; “Law is a tool of social engineering. It is an instrument of seeking justice, a platform of dispute resolution and it is people-related. You are dealing with challenges.
You are a champion, a shield to see that wrongs are redressed He describes as disability, noting that when that wrong is redressed; the person whose right is violated would feel satisfied; if you are the one who assisted that person to get his right back, you will be happy; it is something I like doing.
It is intellectually stimulating; you use your mental muscles; when you persuade the judge with your arguments to see your point of view that is stimulating.
Mr. Ogunlana scolded the Reporter when it was suggested that a group of young Lawyers may have come together to form the association. But as he explained, biological age is not so much an issue to people of the Bar as the time they were called to the Bar; “youth? He queried as he counted the number of years that have passed since he was admitted in 1996.
He said that even the one that called at the age of nineteen should not be classed as a youth because of the years of experience. “It is not age, we are activists.
We are progressives who think that politics should be pursued with integrity, efficient and responsive governance to the people. According to him, the first phase is identifying the right candidate and canvassing for him. The second phase is monitoring to see that those who voted for are in compliant to their promises.